I can’t tell you how excited I am about this wedding! Actually, I (like many of you here) may be able to claim the dubious honor of being excited about this wedding before it was for sure going to happen. Actually before there was a couple. Oh dear, possibly before I was technically friends with either party?
This is because this marriage has been a while in the making. I remember when I was just getting to know Serena freshman year at UD. Several of us were sitting in that cozy tea filled dorm room in Catherine Hall. I asked “So… you and Anthony…?” And of course she said… “Oh god, no! Why does everybody think that?!”
Well, part of why everybody thought that is because (I am pretty sure) that Anthony knew that. But he also knew the value of patience, but we will get back to that.
You frequently hear the phrase “Opposites attract.” And it is sometimes true. For instance, Anthony is capable of being ON TIME. However, I have also developed a theory from watching my friends fall in love: the most beautiful couples work because (even when they are radically different in superficial things) at a deeper level, God has blessed them both with one or two of the same gifts. A blessing so rare that only the other person can really appreciate the value of that virtue. There are two gifts I have seen running through every part of Anthony and Serena’s beautiful relationship.
Let’s start with the virtue of Patience. Anthony, here’s to you. From O’Hara before Freshman year (when, I’m guessing, you knew that this girl was the one?) to Mike Lococo’s 21st birthday party Junior year when y’all actually started dating for real is a long time to wait for a date. And you spent every minute of it being the best possible friend. Never pressuring, always caring for her. Amid the difficult times that came over those 2 years, you were a rock and the picture of true generous patience.
Serena, here’s to you. From the end of Senior year until this August is a LONG TIME of long-distance relationships, train schedules, bus schedules, and negotiating the rival demands of grad school, work and endless labs. And you managed it, quietly trying to adapt your plans so that when the time came, you would both be ready. That is patience the like of which I cannot even fathom.
The other virtue that both Anthony and Serena have in spades is care. I am not sure that is quite the right word. I want to call it present-ness too, but that isn’t exactly it either. Let me explain:
You may have noticed a tea theme in the room tonight? Maybe? Remember that beautiful tea and pillow-filled room I mentioned from Serena’s freshman year? Serena’s room is ALWAYS like that. When you come in with a problem, she has the gift of knowing that so many of the problems we face can actually be fixed by a cup of tea. Or (once she moved into an apartment with a kitchen) something delicious and artery clogging. Even when we didn’t have tea readily available on our Rome, Serena was blessed with the ability to be present and care, not in an abstract way, but in a solid way for those around her. I came to value this gift all the more when we moved to different states after college and I realized that my best friend’s caring and present-ness can miraculously extend across at least 1,425.8 miles. By the way, that is how far our houses have been apart for the past couple years. And it sucked.
And against all odds, Anthony has the same gift, though not in the same way. (Anthony, I am sorry, you will never be quite as awesome at tea-and-oxytocin as your wife… you might be able to give her a run for her money in the cooking delicious things department. )However, Anthony also takes care of people. I remember figuring this out on a trip to Cinque Terra with 16 BILLION people. Maybe it was only 10… but still. While most of us were fighting the urge to strangle each other, Anthony quietly took care of us. While most of us whined, were indecisive, snapped at each other, and generally made each other miserable, Anthony printed schedules, looked up maps, and figured out our actual options so that when the rest of us calmed down, we could make a choice. (Incidentally, this quality of taking care of people is what earned him the endless envy from his junior year roommates who called this type of behavior “Just being The Sig”. I am pretty sure Anthony has never met a problem he couldn’t eventually work out. From traveling to camping to Serena. Boy did we girls love him for that! And, MAN were those boys jealous!)
So, those are the qualities. Patience pretty obviously played into Anthony and Serena’s relationship. But actually I have to tell you a little more about how that “care-taking” gift that they share has become to me the emblem of a beautiful and equal relationship.
As some of you may know, UD has a Rome semester, which can be miraculous. What very few people will tell you is that the semester after our Rome semester is not exactly a walk in the park, and it certainly wasn’t for Serena and I. When you come back, having learned more about yourself than you thought possible or really… necessary, figuring out how to live a normal life in Irving can be difficult. I lived with Serena that semester, and what I remember most (aside from her perpetual snooze-button-routine every single morning) was Anthony. (Remember, this is before they were dating). Anthony was always there. Always ready to reorganize his schedule so that he could bring her food, or study with her, or sit with her, or just be normal with her when being normal was difficult. Anthony took care of her.
So much so that even knowing how gifted she is at caring for people, I wondered how she would ever be able to be as present to him. But she was! The December after they started dating, Anthony came down with what I can only describe as the plague. Technically it was just mono, but it was awful and (over-acheiver that he is) ANTHONY WOULD NOT JUST SLOW DOWN AND SLEEP. So he got worse and ended up dehydrated and sick in the hospital, and I got to see just how much Serena could take care of Anthony. Sitting in those waiting rooms, I was blown away by the lists of questions Serena had written down to ask the nurses and doctors. (Later she told me she got them from her wonderful mother). Every free moment she was at the hospital. She kept the most organized log of what and when Anthony ate, what he drank, which medicines he needed, etc. etc. When they got out of the hospital, she lovingly force-fed him every vitamin and homeopathic cure known to man until he went home to St. Louis. Serena took care of him.
I remember looking at them and thinking – as I have done on many occasions before and since – “So this is what a relationship looks like.” They have been an example to me. Not only of a good relationship, but of the virtues that make a good marriage possible.
So, without further ado, let me propose a toast: to Anthony and my best friend Serena. I can think of no better people to set out on this adventure, and no better virtues on which to build. Be patient with each other. Take care of each other. And thank you.